Hundreds march to send message: refugees welcome in Scotland

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SHAFAQNA – More than 1,000 people in Scotland, turned out for an anti-racism rally in order to send a message that refugees are welcome in the country.

The annual St Andrew’s Day march, organized by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), was attended by more than 1,000 demonstrators who marched from Glasgow Green through the streets of the city centre, despite pouring rain, with banners bearing messages such as ‘Refugees welcome’ and ‘Love Glasgow, Hate Racism.’

A rally was also held at Glasgow Film Theatre, where refugees who have made their home in Scotland spoke about their experiences.

The speakers included Hekmat Adal, a financial analyst from Damascus, who has lived in Glasgow for five years. He came to Scotland to complete a master’s degree but was unable to return to his home country after the war broke out.

Among those taking part in the march was Michelle, from Glasgow, who declined to give her last name. She said: “I think it really important to support the march this year in light of the refugee crisis.

“It also seems racism in Scotland has been turned up a gear, which really worries me, my partner is Asian and my son is mixed-race.

Several members of United Glasgow FC, a football team which brings together asylum seekers, refugees and other marginalized communities, were at the march.

Founder and chairman Alan White said: “Scotland is not immune from racism and Islamophobia. It is really important there is a constant attempt to challenge racist attitudes, not just when something bad happens.”

Speaking ahead of the event, Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “With a humanitarian tragedy unfolding, it seems appropriate to use the annual anti-racist St Andrew’s Day march and rally to send a clear message that Scotland welcomes refugees and that we are ready to provide space in our country for all those who need it.”

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